He stumbles in at midnight, having been gone since 7 that morning. He hugs me and I squeeze him back.
"I need you," he says.
"Babe, I need you more than anything in this world," I tell him back.
We lay back, content in each other's arms. Our love is full. Our hearts are one.
The dark, cold Alaskan sky further illuminated him as he bent on one knee in the snow.
"Will you marry me?" he softly breathed, gazing into my surprised eyes.
I am only sixteen. My parents, leaders, and other adults have told me that I don't know what love is. But my heart and mind tell me this is the right choice. That he is the man I love and I wouldn't want to spend my life with any other person.
"Yes!" I said. Internally defying the surrounding forces and letting them know that forced to live and act like an adult, I became one.
The church leaders and doctrine explicitly state acting on homosexual tendencies is a sin. I thought I agreed, remember I was a believing member who did, said, and acted according to what I had been taught.
But all my observations told me the church was wrong. It cannot be a sin to love. Given the vehemence with which people reacted when they discovered I was engaged, at 16, to the man I loved, who was not a return missionary and did not want to serve a mission, I have seen this idea first-hand. At that time, despite all the fibers in my being telling me otherwise, I caved to my naturally obeying self and encouraged Ben to serve a mission. He, also an obedient and people-pleasing person, agreed.
Everything I felt, my answers to prayers, were ignored because it went against the natural order of my church.
This week, I listened to Stacey's story of owning her lesbian self. I cried as she shared her desire to be normal, of marrying her husband and trying so hard to love him--of thinking his love could somehow become hers too. Until she had the answer, in the temple, telling her she needs to accept how God has made her. Her husband, a supportive and amazing man, agrees. They divorce. She finally feels whole in the arms of another woman. Her spirit is no longer broken as she accepts love in the way that God intended.
How could I deny her the chance for intimacy? How could I let my experience as a 16-year-old be repeated again in hundreds-nay, thousands-of people's lives by telling them their love is a sin?
It is 3.5 years later. I meet him at the airport, praying that his feelings haven't changed. After a whirl-wind 5 days, he proposes. We marry 22 days later. In a year, we welcome our first. 14 months later, our second. And our love? That love that was so sinful when I was 16? Is celebrated. Because we went with "the script."
I watch documentaries as gay couples tell their stories. The love they have for each other is palpable. I wonder, is their love any different from the love I have? Can it really be a sin?
What is immorality anyway? Is it to love someone, or is it to fully express your love outside of marriage? If I don't let these gay couples get married, denying that they actually love each other, aren't I forcing them to break the law of chastity?
These questions won't stop. I can't sleep at night because me, the supposed Christian, is spreading hate instead of love.
I take a deep breath. I ponder. My heart tells me everything I have believed is wrong. My mind thinks about the science, the genetics, and I wonder if God could really make mistakes. And if he doesn't, would He really sanction anti-family sentiments?
As I look at the bigger picture, I realize that love fuels this world. To deny this would be to take away the good in humanity. I can't consciously do this, so I am going with my heart. I have a feeling, and the experience, that my heart is not wrong on this. I am 24, strong, and can no longer be pressured into accepting what I disagree with.
I gaze into my husband's eyes, the eyes I have treasured since I was 16, and I know I cannot deny love. I cannot allow hurt and pain to accompany this world's bleak existence. Family is important and there are various ways to build one. Whether it is as a mature 18-year-old, or between couples of the same gender. Family does hold this society together and I will fight to keep it that way.